Of course, this “they” of whom I speak is pretty much everyone who has ever gone into the wilderness to hike. Maps are one of the famed “10 Essentials”, so I spent the $27.95 gladly, as I don’t want to be mistaken for a backpacking newbie (in spite of the fact that I am). And I love the fact that the map is divided into seven sections. I’m not an ounce-counter (yet), but appreciate only having to carry one section on my day/overnight AT excursions.
Pulling out/poring over Map 3, I found that the Leeman Brook Lean-to is a short three mile jaunt northbound from the Monson trailhead. That sounds like the perfect first hike on the AT to me, with the added cachet of its location falling within the Hundred Mile Wilderness. And I’m thinking Saturday May 7th will be the perfect day, given favorable weather (I have no wish for my first AT experience to be conducted in a raging downpour). That gives me about ten days to gather up the remainder of my 10 Essentials and get ready to hike…
Smart Aleck Question of the Day: How many miles should I complete before officially declaring myself a section hiker? Will three be enough? 😉
I say “sort of” because, while it had all the trappings of a hike (pack with supplies, correct shoes and clothing, etc.) it was more of a stroll along a nicely manicured dirt road with great views than a technical hike. But I needed a first hike like this for two reasons: One, it was the breakout trip for my untested Osprey Kestrel 28; and two, it was a first-of-the-season outdoor exercise for a friend who will be accompanying me on lots of my adventures in the future (He did great. Said he could have done more than the 6.3 miles, which is what I like to hear).
My Kestrel weighed in at a scant 10 pounds for this trip around Eagle Lake on the carriage trails in Acadia National Park, but I felt as if that was enough for a quick shakeout cruise, especially given that I’d never carried a pack before. If a pack could be said to carry itself, this one did. I noticed it on my back for the first 20 minutes, but after that, it totally disappeared. Quibbles: I wish the water bottle pockets were angled forward for easy removal/replacement while hiking, and that the hip belt pockets were a bit further in front, but those are little nits I’m picking. Overall, I was thrilled with the pack, and am looking forward to taking it out on the AT for a day hike soon.
I left my shiny new trekking poles in the car. Even though I was anxious to try them, I didn’t honestly feel that a casual walk along a dirt road was the best first test. I’ll be heading to Monson in a couple of weeks to tackle a few miles of the Hundred Mile Wilderness. That will be a fair trial, for sure.
I was pleased overall with my first foray carrying a pack. I’m scheming my next adventure already…
Side Note: I did get to sniff the AT the previous day, but we didn’t have time to get more than a few hundred yards into the trail. There was still a fair amount of uneven snowpack in the woods. But I wanted to see my first white blaze and the Hundred Mile Wilderness sign in person, and I did. And boy, did it fuel the fire…
Starting tomorrow. Sort of. I’ve managed to hitch a ride with a friend who has some business in the Monson area, and he’s agreed to stop me at the AT trailhead there so I can at least sniff the start (northbound) of the Hundred Mile Wilderness. Can’t wait to actually see it and step onto it!
In addition, this same friend has agreed to a quick Saturday morning hike on the carriage trails around Eagle Lake in Acadia National Park, which I will use as a shakeout cruise for my as-of-yet unspoiled Osprey Kestrel 28 and Black Diamond Ergo Cork trekking poles. I just need to grab a couple more items on the ten essentials list, and I’ll be good to go.
It’s been tough waiting for the endless Maine winter to, well…end so that I could physically start my transition to backpacking/hiking. Spring has continued to stagger in pretty slowly, but the weekend looks great, and I’m excited to expose my new equipment and old runner’s body to the rigors of hiking.
Next week, I’ll have an actual hiking experience and photos to put up on my hiking blog.
As it should be.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau